Hanukkah is fraught with debates. How to spell Hanukkah, how to properly light the hannukiah, how and how many gifts you should give, whether you should have applesauce or sour cream with latkes, and on and on!
But one thing that everyone agrees on: food is important!
Growing up, I have distinct memories of the synagogue hosting a Hanukkah dinner for the congregation that included chicken, roasted green beans with almonds, salad, latkes, and tons of chocolate gelt! I was not a huge fan of the meal, but one of my sisters remembers it fondly and it is part of her tradition.
Latkes, basically a fried potato pancake, are the main staple of most dinners and, nearly everyone I talked to in my **very unscientific** polling agreed that they are the most important!
One friend shared a recipe that uses zucchini and sweet potatoes instead of traditional white potatoes. You can check it out here. My family usually does a big amount of traditional latkes plus a few sweet potatoes.
The Great Debate may commence in your house as to whether latkes are better with sour cream or applesauce. Growing up, there was a complete split, even though there are 5 kids (my sister liked both). I recommend you taste them both ways and decide for yourself! A quick Google search says that there are thousands of places to check for recipes. But I recommend this one from allrecipes or this one from epicurious. If yours are neat and tidy, well, you probably didn’t do it right. Mine, my mother’s, my sisters’, my grandmothers’, and everyone else I know, all had rough edges. And the recipes all lie. Newspaper is best for setting them out on; they have tons of oil to drip.
The other common mainstay was sufganiyot or homemade jelly doughnuts. Thanks to Martha Stewart, you can try them out too! (Or head to your favorite donut shop and buy them. After burning myself with oil, it’s what I do.)
However, friends, latkes and jelly doughnuts do not a meal make. And as fun as the synagogue dinner usually was, with children running around like crazy, you’ll need something else.
Here in the South, when people here the word “brisket,” they usually think of beef cooked at the BBQ festival, a smoker, and some amazing, sticky, sweet sauce. But Jews know better. We know that if we hear the word “brisket” and “dinner” and “Hanukkah,” together, we’re getting something entirely different! Instead of a smoked meat, we prefer to BRAISE the brisket. Obviously, it’s the best way!
Yep! Jewish Brisket.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to duke it out with your favorite BBQ guy! You can have BOTH!
According to my dad, the interwebs should not be consulted for these things and one should follow the sage advice handed down in the kitchen…otherwise known as TRADITION!
However, a secret that can stay between me and you, is that Jewish blogger, Tori, has a GREAT recipe you can find here. And Ina Gardner, the Barefoot Contessa, got on the Today show and shared these recipes.
No matter how you decide to celebrate, it always comes down to Light, Love, and Laughter!!